Walking and Gawking

Eaves Wood – The Row – Bottom’s Lane – The Green – Stankelt Lane – The Lots – The Cove – Elmslack Lane

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Cherry Blossom.

The forecast was poor, but the rain was meant to stop eventually, late in the afternoon. It didn’t, but then just when it seemed set in for the entire day it suddenly both stopped raining and brightened up, leaving dramatic dark skies to the east, but sunshine overhead.

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Honesty.

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I headed up the Coronation Path (bought in 1953 by the village to give access to Eaves Wood) knowing that I would gain height with a view of those glowering clouds.

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The sun was low filtering through the trees and lighting the new Beech leaves…

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From Castlebarrow, looking over the village, I could see the hills of the Forest of Bowland were still shrouded in a layer of cloud.

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But that it was slightly brighter out over the bay…

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A Robin was serenading me from the top of a Yew tree level with the crag…

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Beech leaves in a rut, Andy Goldsworthy style?

Most of these photos were taken in the early part of the walk. After that the light was generally too poor. When I’d asked TBH to lend me her phone so that I could monitor my mileage, A had very kindly offered me hers instead, but insisted that I use a different App which she assured me was ‘better’ in some unspecified way.

This turned out to mean that the phone, rather disconcertingly, announced aloud, every kilometre, my average speed, split times, distance etc. It took me a bit by surprise the first time, to be spoken to in an American accent whilst I was ostensibly alone in the woods. It was no real surprise, on the other hand, to discover that my speed increases significantly when I stop taking photos.

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After my almost obligatory visit to The Lots and The Cove I walked past a friend’s house and discovered him having a quiet smoke on his front step. Twenty minutes later as we sat chewing the fat over a cup of tea in his kitchen, A’s phone piped up to deliver very disappointing news about my current speed and split time.

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Must try harder obviously!

Walking and Gawking

The Wells of Silverdale

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There’s something very satisfying about a hand drawn map, don’t you think? This one is from a leaflet; one from my collection of leaflets detailing local walks, which I have acquired over the years and keep filed away on a shelf. I dug it out because I wanted to compare it with this map…

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Which is from ‘Old Silverdale’ by Rod J. Ireland, which I bought last week, a little birthday present to myself, and which I’ve been poring over ever since. This map shows more wells than the first. At some point, I shall have to see if I can find any trace of the additional wells shown. But on this occasion I contented myself with following the route shown in the leaflet.

 

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Cheery Dandelions.

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Cheery Celandines.

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Elmslack Well.

Yes, I realise that it’s actually a bin. But I’m told that it’s on the site of the old well.

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Inman’s Road.

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Not wells, I know, but these tanks formerly collected and supplied water to Hill House, now the Woodlands pub, so they seem relevant. Mains water arrived in the area in 1938 (there’s still no mains sewers). Until then the wells would obviously have been important. Also many houses had tanks on the roof which collected rain water.

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This photo is the best I managed from a satisfyingly close encounter with ‘the British bird of paradise‘, or more prosaically, a Jay. The Jay moved from branch to branch, but unusually, stayed in sight and not too far away. Sadly, never long enough for me to get any half decent photos.

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This squirrel was more obliging.

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Wood Anemones.

The Toothwort beside Inman’s Road is much taller than it was, but already beginning to look a bit tatty and past its best.

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More Wood Anemones.

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Chaffinch.

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Dogslack Well.

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Comma butterfly.

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Bank Well.

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The light was stunning and making everything look gorgeous.

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Coot chick.

Well, almost everything. This is the kind of face that only a mother could love, surely?

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Lambert’s Meadow.

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I like to think that this is a Raven, sitting atop a very tall tree, regally surveying the meadow and the surrounding woodland. But none of the photos show the shaggy throat which is supposed to make it easy to distinguish between Ravens and Crows. So, I’m not sure.

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Burton Well

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The pond at Woodwell.

There are newts at Woodwell. We hardly ever see them. But today, not only did I see one, but I managed to train my camera on it…

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Blast!

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Golden Saxifrage.

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Woodwell.

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The Ramsons in Bottom’s Wood are looking particularly verdant, but no sign yet of any flowers. On the verge of Cove Road, near to the Cove, the flowers are already on display. The flowers always seem to appear there first.

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Cherry blossom.

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Jackdaw.

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Song Thrush.

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Nuthatch.

On the Lots there were Starlings and Pied Wagtails foraging on the ground.

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Crow – the second evening in a row when a crow has been perched on this branch.

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Pied Wagtail.

It was one of those magical days when lots of birds seemed content to sit still and be photographed. Lots, but not all. The Buzzards were flying above the small copse above the Cove. I watched them through the trees as, once again, they both flew in to perch on a tree at the far side of the wood. This time it was the same tree in which a Tawny Owl obligingly posed for a photo one evening some years ago. They were tantalisingly close, maybe I could get some good photos?

But when I switched on my camera, what did I notice, much closer to hand…

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…a pair of Nuthatches.

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Since I learned to recognise the slightly monotonous song of Nuthatches, I’ve come to realise how very common they are in this area. And I spot them much more often than I used to. As a boy, these were an exotic rarity to me, and fortunately their ubiquity has done nothing to reduce the thrill I still feel when I see them.

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One of the pair sat and pruned itself for quite some time and I took lots of photos before eventually turning my attention back to the tree where the Buzzards…

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…were no longer perched.

I scanned other trees for a while, and then, just as I reluctantly gave up on the idea of seeing the Buzzards again, there they were, not in a tree, but in the adjacent field, one on the ground and the other sat on a dry-stone wall, and showing to much better advantage than before. But before I took any photos, they were off again.

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Starling.

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Bullfinch.

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Morecambe Bay.

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Blackbird – in almost the same spot as the night before.

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Five for silver.

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It was getting a bit dark for bird photos at this point, but this Goldfinch was behaving in a way which I’ve noticed a couple of times recently; it was singing, swivelling sharply through ninety degrees singing again, then back and so on. The precision of it seemed quite aggressive, but at the same time, pretty comical.

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The leaflet says that this walk is ‘about four miles’, but although I’d skipped the out and back to Bard’s Well on the shore, The Move App was telling me that I’d walked five miles. And despite the Jay, the Newt and the Buzzards all evading my camera, this had been a very satisfying five miles.

The Wells of Silverdale

Little and Often – Lao Tzu

Hagg Wood – The Green – Stankelt Road – The Lots – The Cove – Townsfield

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I frequently walk past this border of Hagg Wood and it’s been interesting to watch the Blackthorn flowers transform from constellations of tight white balls into fully fledged blossom.

Ecotones are always busy with life and this one, between the woods and the open field, is no exception, being always thronged with birds. Usually I hear them more than see them, but this warbler…

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…was both silent, but also unusually easy to track with my camera.

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Warbler’s are easiest to distinguish by their songs, so I’m not sure whether this is a Chiff-Chaff or something else. And, to be honest, if it isn’t a Chiff-Chaff, then the song wouldn’t have helped me much either.

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The mystery tree is still playing its cards close to its chest, with no leaves unfurling yet, which probably means that it isn’t a Sycamore.

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Hebridean Sheep. I think.

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Chaffinch.

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I stepped into Pointer Wood, saw how deep the shadows were there and decided not to go that way. But I lingered long enough to take lots of backlit photos…

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Gooseberry flowers.

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Hazel leaves?

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Sycamore leaves.

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Ivy.

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The Lots.

The couple ahead of me in the photo are friends from the village whom I often meet when I’m walking locally, particularly of an evening. It amuses them that at the moment I wear shorts, but also a hat and gloves. Seems perfectly sensible to me.

As I approached the small copse which stands either side of the path above the cliff by The Cove, I watched a pair of Buzzards circling above it.

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There were several Starlings foraging in the second, northern-most of The Lots fields. A few years ago I spotted a Starling nest in the woods here and watched for some time as the two parent birds flew back and forth whilst their hungry brood noisily pleaded for more.

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Crow.

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“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’, this oft-quoted proverb is apparently from the 64th chapter of the Tao Te Ching which is attributed to Lao Tzu. A more accurate translation, I’ve read, would be: “A journey of a thousand li starts beneath ones feet.”

But, returning to Mr Sloman and his daily target of 3 miles; that average mileage per day would yield over 1000 miles in a year. Which would no doubt feel like something of an achievement. I notice that Country Walking magazine have a 1000 mile challenge. And some bloggers are already well underway with said challenge.

So: could I manage it? Well, this modest walk is two and a half miles. I know this since TBH has loaded an App called Move onto her phone and I’ve been borrowing the phone. The app provides a step-count, a distance, time and average speed for your walk. I must confess that I love both the data and the maps and am almost tempted to get my own smart phone so that I can use it more regularly. Almost. Even with all of the gawking I did, I still managed this in just over an hour, so yes, I could probably manage this most days and then make up any shortfall at the weekends. Of course, a good time to come to this particular realisation would have been just before New Year, rather than part way through April. Still, it’s something to think of for next year. In the meantime I’ll keep practising.

This gate…

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…gives me some measure of my progress to date. In recent years it has been a bit of a squeeze for me to get through it, but now I can pass through with ease. A fact which never fails to make me smile. Sometimes I go back and forth through it a couple of times, just because I can.

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The pair of Buzzards swooped low over the wood then gracefully arced over and back to come to land on branches high at the back of the wood. I could half see them, but not well enough to get a photo.

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Behind me, a Blackbird was regaling the sinking sun with gusto.

And why not?

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Blackthorn Blossom in late evening light.

 

Little and Often – Lao Tzu

Another Morecambe Bay Sunset

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Title says it all really. The familiar late walk around the The Cove and The Lots. Only unusual because I’d already been this way earlier with our friend The Painter when he dropped by for a visit.

I occasionally threaten to broaden the scope of this blog with recipes and posts about card games etc. Since I don’t have much to say about my walk, I decided to enliven this post with some book recommendations:

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These books qualified because I’ve read them reasonably recently, they make a representative, heterogenous sample of my reading fodder, I really enjoyed them and I could lay my hands on them to take a photo, so, for example, the excellent history of piracy I read in February isn’t here because I don’t know where I’ve put it. Most of these were second-hand purchases, although I should say that ‘H is for Hawk’ was a present from TBH and ‘1927’ was loaned to me by some-time star of this blog X-Ray.

With regard to the books: if you’ve read Ronald Turnbull’s ‘Book of the Bivvy’ you’ll know what to expect from him; this is a book both about John Muir and about following in his footsteps. ‘H is for Hawk’ deserved all of the critical acclaim it garnered and also encouraged me to finally get around to reading T.H.White’s ‘The Goshawk’, which I also enjoyed. ‘1927’ is fascinating, full of surprising things I didn’t know about. I’ve been meaning to mention ‘Don’t Point That Thing at Me’ for some time, not only because I enjoyed it, but because the final section of the book is set in and around Silverdale, so it seems very pertinent to this blog. ‘How to Live’ is a great read, and had me digging out my two volume translation of Montaigne’s ‘Essays’, although I haven’t made huge progress with them. I believe the BBC are making an adaption of ‘The City and The City’; it will be interesting to see how they deal with the central conceit of two contiguous but mutually disregarding cities – this was good enough to have me seeking out more novels by Mieville. I haven’t finished ‘A Radical History of Britain’ or ‘The Nautical Chart’, but I’m enjoying them both enormously. I’ve read the Perez-Reverte before, it was the first of his novels I read, but then I lent it to somebody, forgot who I’d lent it to and never got it back. I picked up a new copy for a few pence at the village coffee morning and started reading it on Wednesday when I had some time on my hands waiting to go in to theatre for a minor op, and then waiting to be discharged afterwards*. Don’t read ‘Swallow This’ if you ever intend to eat processed food again. Otherwise, it’s highly illuminating journalism about the food industry, and somewhat alarming. ‘The Buried Giant’ is quite an odd novel, I thought, but I like odd novels, so that’s alright.

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These were behind the benches above the Cove. Is this ‘yarn-bombing’?

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It was a bit too dark for photos of birds really. Best to stick to the sunset…

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*It went very well, better than expected in fact. Thanks for asking.

Another Morecambe Bay Sunset

Rilke

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Sunset
                                             by Rainer Maria Rilke
                                          (translated by Robert Bly)
 
                      Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
                      which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
                      You look, and soon these two worlds both have you,
                      one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth,
 
                      leaving you, not really belonging to either,
                      not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
                      not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
                      that turns to a star each night and climbs—
 
                      leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
                      your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
                      so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
                      one moment of your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.

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Just a short walk this one, to The Cove and across The Lots. Sometimes that’s all you need!

Rilke

Celandines, Buds, Sunset, Hirundines.

Hagg Wood – The Green – Clark’s Lot – Hollins Lane – Slackwood Lane – Leighton Moss  – Lower Hide – Yealand Allotment – Hawes Water – The Row – Hagg Wood

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Lesser Celandines enjoying the sunshine.

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The western edge of Hagg Wood, a small copse which edge’s Bottom’s Lane, seems to be a good place to spot our common songbirds, or at least at the moment it is, whilst the trees have no leaves.

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Chaffinch.

I keep returning to this particular path at the moment, because I’m anxious for clues to help me identify The Mystery Tree. It has been suggested that it might be a Sycamore, A Field Maple or an Ash. Here are its buds…

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…which categorically rule out the latter. And if it’s a Sycamore, it will be in leaf very, very soon, so I shall soon be able to confirm or discount that possibility.

The oak trees, which form the line which ends with the mystery tree, have much browner buds, in clusters and part way along the twigs as well as at the ends, rather than singly and only at the ends of the twigs.

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As well as the ground cover plants, which I mentioned in my last post, many of the woodlands under-storey shrubs are coming into leaf ahead of the trees above them. Honeysuckle is one of the earliest and is now often fully decked out with leaves. The raspberry canes have leaves again, and the gooseberry bushes have both leaves and flowers…

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Gooseberries are quite common locally and are very obvious at this time of the year, but, sadly, much less easy to spot in July when they are fruiting.

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Leighton Moss from the ‘Sky Tower’.

Although I’d set off with blue skies and sunshine, by the time I reached Leighton Moss, the sun was sinking low and it was beginning to get a little dingy for photography. Which was a bit frustrating, because I was very struck by the Alder trees…

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On the left are the cone-like fruit which have been on the tree all through the winter, on the right the long dangling male catkins, and just above those the tiny female catkins.

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As I struck out across the causeway, the sun was sinking behind the ridge of slightly higher ground which isn’t named on the OS Map, but which I shall call Silver Helme after the Scout Camp which is situated there.

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From the causeway I continued along the Lower Hide path, which, in my mind at least, is ’round the back’ of Leighton Moss.

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Eventually reaching Lower Hide itself.

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I was enjoying getting a variety of different perspectives on the sunset. I was also very excited because skimming low over the water were lots of very fast-flying birds…

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Hirundines!

Even if it hadn’t been so dark, I’m not sure I would have been able to tell whether these were House Martins, Sand Martins or Swallows. But I don’t care, because I know what they mean – they’re here to tell us that spring has arrived!

The remainder of my walk was a bit dark. I’d neglected to bring a headtorch. Again. Half an hour later, having crossed Yealand Allotment to Hawes Water…

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It was still just about light enough to see to walk.

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In the woods I heard something crashing about in the trees – Roe Deer I thought. Which was confirmed moments later when one of them ‘barked’ nearby. This is a pretty unearthly cry, and quite loud when it’s close to. I think that if I hadn’t heard them before I might have been unnerved by it.

When I passed Hagg Wood again, it was Orion’s belt I was trying to photograph (without success) and I was glad that I’ve walked these field paths many times before, including in the dark, because there was no moon and it was exceedingly dark, so it helped that I knew exactly where I was going.

Celandines, Buds, Sunset, Hirundines.

Quince, Sparrows, Blackbirds, Sunset

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This cheery Quince is on one of the verges of Cove Road, practically on our doorstep. About a week before I took these photos, I’d previously tried to capture the Sparrows which like to congregate here, but was frustrated by low light. Then, the flowers had been tight buds, like small scarlet berries.

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We have a couple of Quince in our garden, they’ve been there since we moved in, stuck in pots – little more than large buckets really – and ‘trained’ against an east-facing wall. They aren’t very happy and in twelve years have barely grown, producing few flowers and no fruit.

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I think I should stick them into a border. Maybe then I can have a go at making Membrillo to go with the Manchego which the kids like so much.

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A lot of recent walks have been at the end of a sunny day, but when the sun has been dipping behind cloud. By contrast, this one took place on a wet day which had brightened up.

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Blackbirds, female and…

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…male.

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Forsythia.

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This was a couple of days before the Spring Equinox, but nobody had told the woodland plants which exploit the period before the trees come back into leaf; the Ramsons (above), Dog’s Mercury and Cuckoo Pint which carpet the local woods were all in full swing, not waiting for any official starter’s pistol.

I didn’t go very far, just up to the Pepper Pot to look at the bay and the sky…

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…then down through Eaves Wood by a route I don’t often take…

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And along to The Cove to look at the bay and the sky some more.

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Finally across The Lots and home along Spring Bank an appropriately named local street.

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When I turned the corner from the lane into our front garden I almost walked into a Roe Deer buck. I’m not sure which of us was more startled. Earlier, when it had been raining, the boys had been anxious to point out to me the pair of Roe Deer which were foraging at the bottom of our garden. Now there were four deer. They fled into our neighbour’s garden. I followed them as best I could, by walking round into our back garden. I didn’t get any photos of the deer, but I did spot an enormous Bumblebee…

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…which was very industriously exploiting the large patch of these early flowers which I have never been able to identify. I took lots of photos, all of them a bit rubbish, but it was quite dark at this point!

Quince, Sparrows, Blackbirds, Sunset